Sunday, February 17, 2019

Only In America U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: The Mindbenders

THE MINDBENDERS-It's Getting Harder All The Time/Off And Running US Fontana F-1595 1967

One of the Mindbenders best single releases in my estimation was today's subject from the 1967 film "To Sir With Love". Both tracks are featured in the film, the A-side "It's Getting Harder All The Time" is mimed by the band in one of the ending scenes where they are appearing at a school dance and the flip "Off And Running" is heard playing on a transistor radio in an earlier scene. Curiously the single was only released in the United States.  Both tracks also appeared on the soundtrack LP (which was issued in over half a dozen countries).

"It's Getting Harder All The Time" ranks for me as one of my favorite Mindbenders tracks (have a peek at my 10 faves by them here). From it's driving beat accented by some choppy guitar with an almost ska rhythm on the offbeat to it's precise backing harmonies topped off by a blistering neo-raga full on freakbeat guitar solo it's a killer track.  Eric Stewart's double tracked lead vocal is equally strong.  The fact that it was not issued as a single anywhere else but the US is both perplexing and a crime. The band can be glimpsed lip syncing it in the school dance scene towards the end of "To Sir With Love" where Sidney Poitier grooves with pupil Judy Geeson.

Lip syncing the A-side in "To Sir With Love"

It's flip "Off And Running" was previously issued as a flop A-side by Lesley Gore the preceding year  in May 1966 (Mercury 72580). It was penned by Toni Wine and Carole Bayer Sager who provided The Mindbenders with their first hit "A Groovy Kind Of Love" as well as their third UK single "Ashes To Ashes". The Mindbenders version of "Off And Running" is a frantic beat track that clocks in at just over two minutes, with a brief but tasty solo by Eric Stewart.  It's far more punchy than the Lesley Gore version.

Of interest in 1982 SCTV did a "To Sir With Love" spoof called "Teacher's Pet" (complete with Andrea Martin doing the Lulu meets Brenda Lee title track) where "Off And Running" can be heard playing. Musical guests "The Boomtown Rats" (looking much like UK Groovy Cellar heroes The Mood Six) perform "Elephants Graveyard".

Both tracks can be found on a UK CD compilation "A Groovy Kind Of Love: The Complete LP & Singles 1966-1968".

Hear "It's Getting Harder All The Time":

Hear "Off And Running":

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